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NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn nears fiery finale

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn is closing in on its fiery finish, following a remarkable journey of 20 years.

Cassini is on course to plunge through Saturn's atmosphere and vaporize like a meteor Friday morning.

Flight controllers at California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory expect one last burst of scientific data from Cassini, before the radio waves go flat - and the spacecraft falls silent.

The only spacecraft to ever orbit Saturn, Cassini showed us the planet, its rings and moons up close in all their glory.

Cassini departed Earth in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004. Its hitchhiking companion, Huygens, landed on the moon Titan in 2005. Nothing from Earth has landed farther.

Team members have already said their goodbyes, but will raise glasses in a final salute.


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